- Mr. Bee
- 8 years ago
Hey all –
I wanted to followup on an earlier post. First some quick context, to catch up any newbees. In early December, I posted about an increase in malicious threadjacking and trolling we’d seen seeing on the site:
We privately suspected that a lot of the personal attacks and snarking on Weddingbee been coordinated by a board of snarkers, so we programmed some software to help manage things on Weddingbee:
Up until this point, I didn’t really give two figs about the snarker boards. I pretty much ignored them, and they seemed to keep their snarking on their own site. I’m a new parent as are most of our volunteer moderators, and I don’t really have time to deal with extra drama in my life. Plus, I agreed with the general consensus that we should focus on policing Weddingbee itself and ignore the rest of the ‘net.
So what changed? Part of it was the increase in frequency of some of the attacks:
* Coordinating snark attacks on brides that they disagree with (or just outright dislike). Ever see a thread where 5-6 people suddenly pile on and attack the OP, and agree with each other? Yup, that was probably them.
* Voting on random poll options. There was a link that showed the most recent polls. The snarky board members would post the link and then all vote on random options, to throw off the poll results. Eventually, I had to disable that link.
* Posting troll attacks. Members would create new accounts and post “innocent questions” that were designed to mock or make fun of hive members.
But much bigger than this was an incident which happened in January. A Weddingbee member posted about coordinating a meetup (I’ve anonymized the post here):
We’re always glad to see our members coordinating G2Gs! But then we got an alarmed email from a member of the aforementioned snarky board. The person alerted us that the same person coordinating the meetup was also on the snarky board, and was coordinating a “Secret [Snarky Board] meetup” before/after the Weddingbee meetup with her fellow members.
As a result, one of our admins reached out to the meetup organizer:
(Apologies for the cut-off message – darn PM bug.)
The member admitted to coordinating both meetups, and seemed genuinely surprised that this might be interpreted in a negative light. But personally – and I am speaking personally here, as a volunteer – it completely freaked me out. This crossed just about every line that existed for me in my experience as a moderator/admin.
It’d be one thing if someone saw a Weddingbee meetup and then had a post-meeting with others to snark with them. Kinda weird and violating a line between the ‘net and RL, but OK I could maybe rationalize it and get there. But to setup the Weddingbee meetup themselves? This was just crazy to me. It reflected a lack of judgement about boundaries that I found very alarming. I’ll just leave it at that.
And the member in question was actually a moderator of the snarky boards. I just found the whole thing very disturbing. We were all relieved when the snarky board member eventually posted to the Weddingbee meetup thread canceling the meetup.
Around that time, we got access to the private snarky boards: I was approached by remorseful members of the snarky girls board, who told us the history of the board and how things had gotten out of control. A member of that board (who shall remain unnamed) has given us access to the private snarky board I was pretty shocked. Since the board had gone private, the level of coordination of snark and troll attacks had gone way up. Here’s an example of the snarky board coordinating a fake thread that makes fun of an existing member.
Shortly after that coordination thread was published, this trollish post went up on Weddingbee (I undeleted it just now):
Anyway, as a moderator and an admin… we have seen these sorts of snark and troll attacks go on for months. We’ve tried just about every remedy out there, from policies to software. We were resolved to just keep deleting the troll crap, when this meetup stuff happened and we just felt that a line had been crossed. And that if we didn’t do anything, then this sort of fake trolling and scary meetup coordination would grow and grow.
Frankly, fake accounts I can live with (even though they suck up tons of time). But Weddingbee meetups setup *by* people who are dedicated to snarking and trolling? Followed up by meetups with fellow snarky board members? That just crossed my personal boundary. Shortly later all this, we banned the ringleaders of that group:
We didn’t ban the members of that private group, b/c frankly I was uncomfortable taking action against people for stuff they do off of Weddingbee. So we gave a one-time amnesty to members of the board: “There are a number of Weddingbee members who participated on the snarky board, but did not participate in the snark attacks and troll attacks on the site. We have decided to grant a one-time amnesty to these members.”
Some of the members of the private forum got the message, deleted their accounts and moved on. Yet others checked out the private snarky board, didn’t care or post, and quickly left. All of those members, we didn’t touch. But a few other new recruits stuck around the snarky boards, and started posting a lot to the forum (a higher post count is how you gain access to the even snarkier boards). It saddened me, but for the people who kept on posting and coordinating on the private boards… they had been warned. Plus for crying out loud, I had said in my last post them I had access to the private boards.
Anyway, that’s the situation. Too much damn trolling, both on Weddingbee and in the real world. It just got to be too much and too real. As a moderator team, we felt we had to take action to protect the community, both online and off. (Please note that we made this decision as a team of volunteers, and that this isn’t some sort of official corporate policy or anything. Use the internet at your own risk, don’t count on anyone but yourself to stay safe, please be careful, etc. etc.)
Ok that’s it for now. Thanks for reading all this! And most of all: thanks to the community. Yesterday and today have been one of our biggest posting days on the boards in the past six months. I think the recent surge in posting has come from a renewed focus on what makes Weddingbee unique: a friendly and mostly supportive community where (mostly) women can plan their weddings.
A huge thanks to so many of you for your ongoing support in making that community happen each and every day!